You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

Summary:Anonymous vs. the Westboro Baptist Church. You could sell tickets.

Update: This just gets better and better. According to a post by Anonymous (we think), the original threat may not have come from Anonymous, but instead by the WBC, trying to raise more awareness and get more visibility. No matter how you interpret this thing, remember one fact: people is crazy.

This week, I was going to embark on a formal definition of cyberwar, quoting from some of the greats of military history. But that's all going by the wayside today to report on the upcoming battle between the Westboro Baptist Church and Anonymous.

This is almost going to be more fun that watching a debate between Sarah Palin and, well, just about anyone else.

I have a warm place in my heart for Anonymous. Now, as a law-and-order guy, I have to point out that they sometimes break the law, and that's not something to be officially tolerated. But these guys have spirit. They're willing to make waves. They take on some of the good fights.

Plus, they're funny. I mean, YouTube Porn Day? Masterful. Wrong -- very, very, very wrong -- but masterful.

Then there's the Westboro Baptist Church. I don't normally take on religious organizations because, no matter how deluded they may seem to me, I generally believe devout people have the right to believe as they wish. But some organizations revel in wrapping themselves in the cloak of religiosity as a form of protection while they spread hate and anguish among their victims.

Westboro Baptist Church is one of those.

Crazy old Fred Phelps and his followers have protested outside funerals (including those of United States Marines), and verbally assaulting grieving families. These creeps actually issued a press release thanking their deity when thousands of people died in an earthquake in China and praised the attacks on 9/11. The list of nutball behaviors goes on and on, including repeated desecrations of the American flag.

No matter how you spin it, Phelps and his followers aren't exactly the poster children for good Christians (or sanity).

CBS News: Hackers warn Westboro Church: Stop now or else

Somehow or another, the WBC came to the attention of Anonymous, an organization of slightly unhinged geeks who unleash cyberattacks on pretty much anyone who annoys them.

This week, Anonymous issued an ultimatum, which essentially told the WBC folk to stop their heinous behavior or Anonymous will unleash a can of whoop on ya'll. One particularly juicy line:

We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover.

Now, let's be clear on something. Anonymous is effective. They have a very powerful DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) network and they've unleashed it with substantial success in the past.

So -- and here comes the funny -- just how does Westboro Baptist Church respond? Do they run to their lawyers or law enforcement? Do they think about the sorts of activities they've done all these years and wonder, really, whether the fight with Anonymous is worth it?

No, no they don't. Instead, they bait the angry dog. Here's the response by Phelps' granddaughter (yes, apparently, he did reproduce, disturbing as that may be):

Twitter address obscured on purpose. Don't follow her.

Now can you see what I mean by fun?

Look, I can't condone cyberattacks by anyone, but darn it all if -- wink, wink, nudge, nudge -- this one might be worth turning the other cheek and looking away for just a little while while Anonymous dishes out some well-deserved justice the old-fashioned, digital way.

You're welcome to TalkBack below, but be aware that we will squash hate speech with the divine power of the almighty delete button. Then we will mock you.

Topics: China, Security

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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